Older Person | Mental Health First Aid Skip to main content

Older Person MHFA

Older Person MHFA

Good mental health is an important factor in facilitating senior Australians to live full, active and healthy lives. In older age, mental illnesses can particularly occur in association with physical illnesses, loss of independence, bereavement and brain changes that occur with ageing. Unfortunately, Australian males aged 80+ are one of the highest risk groups for suicide. Confusion and dementia are much more common in older people, but they are not a normal part of ageing. The percentage of people affected by dementia rises with age. It affects 3% of people aged 65-74 years, 10% of those 75-84 years, and 30% of those aged 85 or over.

However, mental health problems are under-diagnosed and under-treated in this population, often misattributed to ageing or poor physical health. Stigma and poor mental health literacy in family and carers of older Australians are likely to contribute to the lack of supportive interactions, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.

MHFA Australia has developed a 12-hour face-to-face Older Person Mental Health First Aid (OMHFA) Course for families and carers assisting people aged 65+. The aim of our Older Person MHFA Course is to train the community to respond appropriately as early as possible to older people developing mental health problems, rather than wait for a mental health crisis before taking action.

MHFA Australia has undertaken a Delphi study to develop guidelines for how family and carers can help a confused older person. The contents of these guidelines have helped to inform some of the curriculum of this course.

What the course covers:

Course participants learn about the signs and symptoms of the common mental health problems in older people, how to offer initial help, where and how to get professional and other help, what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and how to provide first aid in a crisis situation.

Mental health problems covered are:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety problems
  • Confusion and dementia
  • Psychosis.
Mental health crisis situations covered are:
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Panic attacks
  • Delirium
  • Unsafe behaviours due to confusion - wandering, unsafe to drive and unsafe in current place of residence
  • Challenging behaviours due to confusion.

All MHFA Courses teach how to offer mental health first aid using the MHFA Action Plan ALGEE. More information about ALGEE.

Course format

This is a 12-hour course, which can be delivered as either:

  • A 2-day course (6 hours + breaks per day), OR
  • As 4 separate training modules (3 hours each).

Who can attend a course?

Any interested adult, particularly those who work or live with older people, can attend. Please note this course is not a therapy or support group, rather it is an education course to learn how to give first aid to others.

Finding a course

MHFA Australia does not centrally coordinate courses. Contact any of the Older Person MHFA instructors listed on the Instructor page to arrange a course in your area. Instructors also advertise their courses on our course calendar. Most instructors are willing to travel but need expenses covered.


Your local instructor will confirm their individual fees.

Become an Accredited Mental Health First Aider

Participants who complete this training are eligible to complete an online Accreditation Assessment in order to receive a Mental Health First Aider Certificate of Accreditation valid for 3 years. Learn more.

More information